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nthrax Information: How to Recognize and Protect Yourself

Anthrax Information

Anthrax is in the news frequently these days due to the Arab terrorists that are attacking the United States.   And while these disgusting terrorists have attempted to create fear; in actual fact, very few people have been injured by it.  You have more to fear from your neighbor's teenager's driving habits.

But, it is always a good idea to become knowledgeable and prepared.

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis . Anthrax most commonly occurs in farm animals, but it can also infect humans. Symptoms of disease vary, but usually occur within 7 days after exposure. The serious forms of human anthrax are inhalation (a respiratory infection), cutaneous (a skin infection), and intestinal anthrax.

Anthrax contamination was detected in U. S. Senate office buildings and at several other locations across the United States. The EPA has been working closely with the Capitol Hill Police, the U.S. Postal Service, the Centers for Disease Control, the FBI, and other agencies to ensure that existing anthrax contamination is quickly identified and thoroughly cleaned up, and also to prevent future exposures.

While anthrax cleanup is a new challenge, EPA and its partners have assembled an effective toolbox for tackling it. In a very short time, we've significantly advanced the science and technology of detecting and cleaning up anthrax.

  General Information

Technical Information

General Information

What You Should Do

Anthrax Fact Sheets

Frequently Asked Questions


Technical Information

For Responders:

Note: Due to the extreme hazards potentially associated with exposure to anthrax, it is absolutely essential for responders to work closely with EPA and other federal agencies with expertise in sampling, decontamination, and protection of workers.

Personal Protective Equipment

Prophylaxis

Procedures for Collecting Samples

Anthrax Technical Assistance Document The purpose of this document is to help protect public health and safety by providing the most current information available throughout the federal government, and sharing national experience to date in responding to intentional releases of B. anthracis in urban environments. This document will be updated on a periodic basis to reflect new knowledge based on further experience and the results of relevant research. But this information is evolving rapidly, and it is difficult to keep a written document as current as it needs to be. Therefore, new information related to detection and decontamination of B. anthracis will be published at www.nrt.org , as soon as it is available.

Options for Decontamination

(Note: These options are authorized for use only under specific conditions tailored to the characteristics of each site.)

For Employers/Building Managers:

For Technology Vendors:

EPA's Technology Innovation Office is leading an effort to collect and disseminate information about technologies that detect and kill anthrax and other biological agents. "Technology for Biological Threats" is a clearinghouse for information about these technologies and their vendors, and links to other resources pertaining to the detection and decontamination of biological agents. We are also operating a vendor helpline at (703) 390-0701 and an email address at EPATechBiT@ttemi.com to field inquiries from vendors of detection, decontamination, and measurement technologies.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, all products that claim to be a sanitizer, disinfectant, sterilant, or sporicde need a registration number or approval for emergency use from the Antimicrobials Division of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs. Vendors of decontamination technologies who wish to get their technology registered or approved for emergency use should contact Jeff Kempter in EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, Antimicrobials Division, at (703) 305-5448, or kempter.carlton@epa.gov . For a complete list of crisis exemptions issued by EPA for pesticide products used for decontamination of anthrax see ( http://208.184.25.73/crisis.htm ).

New Methods and Technologies

Anthrax decontamination is a rapidly evolving field, with new methods and technologies continually being developed and tested. Several different antimicrobial pesticides and devices are being currently used by qualified experts under carefully controlled conditions in anthrax cleanups being done across the country.

EPA's Technology Innovation Office is leading an effort to collect and disseminate information about technologies that detect and kill anthrax and other biological agents. Technology for Biological Threats is a clearinghouse for information about these technologies and their vendors, and links to other resources pertaining to the detection and decontamination of biological agents. We are also operating a vendor helpline at (703) 390-0701 and an email address at EPATechBiT@ttemi.com to field inquiries from vendors of detection, decontamination, and measurement technologies.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, all products that claim to be a sanitizer, disinfectant, sterilant, or sporicde need a registration number or approval for emergency use from the Antimicrobials Division of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs. Vendors of decontamination technologies who wish to get their technology registered or approved for emergency use should contact Jeff Kempter in EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, Antimicrobials Division, at (703) 305-5448, or kempter.carlton@epa.gov . For a complete list of crisis exemptions issued by EPA for pesticide products used for decontamination of anthrax see ( http://www.EPATechBiT.org/crisis.htm ).

Other Counter-terrorism Activities

Like many other federal agencies, EPA is working closely with the Office of Homeland Security to develop a national strategy to strengthen protections against terrorist threats or attacks in the United States. But EPA has also been actively involved in federal counter-terrorism planning and response efforts for the past several years. See EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness Office (CEPPO) for more information. Our primary responsibilities have been to help state and local response personnel plan for emergencies, to provide counter-terrorism response training, and to provide technical expertise and other resources in the event of a terrorist incident.

How Can Employers Prevent and Control Exposure and Infection?

The methods for preventing and controlling anthrax exposure and infection vary by workplace. Employers in animal handling occupations who may anticipate exposure may find the following useful.

Anthrax exposures that result from a criminal or terrorist act are more difficult for unsuspecting employers to prevent and control. Nevertheless, OSHA, the CDC, USPS and FBI have developed recommendations to address the recent exposures resulting from contaminated mail and packages:  

For health care employers and emergency responders

T here is a larger body of response planning information. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), CDC, the American Hospital Association (AHA), Department of Defense, and OSHA have several resources about how hospitals can plan and prepare for terrorist events:

 

Local emergency responders also have an important role in recognizing and responding to terrorist events. The National Domestic Preparedness Office (NDPO), Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), CDC, and OSHA provide several resources that address readiness and response by emergency responders:

 

In the event that anthrax is released, controls such as personal protective equipment (e.g., respirators) and decontamination will be needed to limit exposure and prevent secondary infection. You can find additional technical information in the following resources:

 

Need More Information?

For additional assistance about specific aspects of worker health and safety associated with potential anthrax exposure, contact the following hotlines or helplines.

To report suspicious letter or package:

Call 911 (police) then
contact your local FBI Field Office

For vaccination information:

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine Information
National Immunization Hotline (English): 1-800-232-2522
National Immunization Hotline (Spanish): 1-800-232-0233

U.S. Department of Defense
Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program Information Line: (877) 438-8222 (877-GET-VAC).

For state and local response planning:

Department of Justice
State & Local Domestic Preparedness Helpline: 800-368-6498, 9-6 EST (non-emergency technical assistance)

Centers for Disease Control
Emergency Preparedness & Response Branch Hotline for State Health Officials: 770-488-7100 (24-hour line)

Health and Human Services, Office of Emergency Preparedness
National Disaster Medical System: (301) 443-1167 or 800-USA-NDMS

General and emergency contact numbers for most State and territorial public health laboratories. For general worker health and safety information:

OSHA: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)

This page was updated on 1-Apr-2016